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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

This paper analyzes the impact of COVID-19 on liquidity and solvency risks of firms across different sectors of the Swiss economy, as well as mitigation effects of policies implemented in 2020. Developments in liquidity and equity positions are simulated based on financial data for a sector-median company. The simulations suggest that the policies implemented helped reduce liquidity shortfalls and solvency risks. Additional, targeted measures may be needed to support viable companies going forward.

Felix Suntheim
The shutdown in economic activity due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis has resulted in a short-term decline in global carbon emissions, but the long-term impact of the pandemic on the transition to a low-carbon economy is uncertain. Looking at previous episodes of financial and economic stress to draw implications for the current crisis, we find that tighter financial constraints and adverse economic conditions are generally detrimental to firms’ environmental performance, reducing green investments. The COVID-19 crisis could thus potentially slow down the transition to a low-carbon economy. In light of the urgent need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, these findings underline the importance of climate policies and green recovery packages to boost green investment and support the energy transition. Policies that support the sustainable finance sector, such as improved transparency and standardization, could further help mobilize green investments.
Mr. Christian H Ebeke, Nemanja Jovanovic, Ms. Laura Valderrama, and Jing Zhou
The spread of COVID-19, containment measures, and general uncertainty led to a sharp reduction in activity in the first half of 2020. Europe was hit particularly hard—the economic contraction in 2020 is estimated to have been among the largest in the world—with potentially severe repercussions on its nonfinancial corporations. A wave of corporate bankruptcies would generate mass unemployment, and a loss of productive capacity and firm-specific human capital. With many SMEs in Europe relying primarily on the banking sector for external finance, stress in the corporate sector could easily translate into pressures in the banking system (Aiyar et al., forthcoming).
International Monetary Fund. Finance Dept.
On October 30, 2020, the IMF’s Executive Board reviewed the adequacy of the Fund’s precautionary balances. Precautionary balances, comprising the Fund’s general and special reserves and the Special Contingent Account (SCA-1), are one element of the IMF’s multi-layered framework for managing financial risks. These balances provide a buffer to protect the Fund against potential losses, resulting from credit, income, and other financial risks. This review of the adequacy of the Fund’s precautionary balances took place on the standard two-year cycle, although it was delayed by a few months to allow for an assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Fund financial risks. In conducting the review, the Executive Board applied the rules-based framework agreed in 2010.
Mr. Serhan Cevik and Fedor Miryugin
The global economy is in the midst of an unprecedented slump caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. To assess the likely evolution of nonfinancial corporate performance going forward, this paper investigates empirically the impact of past pandemics using firm-level data on more than 537,000 companies from 14 developing countries during the period 1998–2018. The analysis indicates that the prevalence of infectious diseases has an economically and statistically significant negative effect on nonfinancial corporate performance. This adverse impact is particularly pronounced on smaller and younger firms, compared to larger and more established corporations. We also find that a higher number of infectious-disease cases in population increases the probability of failure among nonfinancial firms, particularly for small and young firms. In the case of COVID-19, the magnitude of these effects will be much greater, given the unprecedented scale of the outbreak and strict policy responses to contain its spread.
Thilo Kroeger, Anh Thi Ngoc Nguyen, Yuanyan Sophia Zhang, Pham Dinh Thuy, Nguyen Huy Minh, and Duong Danh Tuan
The paper uses firm-level data to assess the financial health of the Vietnamese non-financial corporate sector on the eve of pandemic. Our analysis finds that smaller domestic firms were particularly vulnerable even by regional comparison. A sensitivity analysis suggests that the COVID-19 shock will have a substantial impact on firms’ profitability, liquidity and even solvency, particularly in the hardest hit sectors that are dominated by SMEs and account for a sizeable employment share, but large firms are not immune to the crisis. Risks of default can propagate more broadly through upstream and downstream linkages to industries not directly impacted, with stresses potentially translating into an increase in corporate bankruptcies and bank fragility. Policy measures taken in the immediate aftermath of the crisis have helped alleviate liquidity pressures, but the nature of policy support may have to pivot to support the recovery.
Reda Cherif and Fuad Hasanov
A universal testing and isolation policy is the most viable way to vanquish a pandemic. Its implementation requires: (i) an epidemiological rather than clinical approach to testing, sacrificing accuracy for scalability, convenience and speed; and (ii) state intervention to ramp up production, similar to True Industrial Policy (TIP), on a global level to achieve a scale and speed the market alone would fail to provide. We sketch a strategy to tackle market failures and implement smart testing, especially in densely populated areas. The estimated cost of testing is dwarfed by its return, mitigating the economic fallout of the pandemic.
International Monetary Fund
There is widespread concern about the possibility of an avian flu pandemic and its implications for humans, and for the global economic and financial system. While the H5N1 virus cannot transmit efficiently from human to human in its present form, a mutation allowing such transmission could lead to a pandemic that might have high costs. Accordingly, the Fund has been active in raising awareness about the potential economic and financial risks of a pandemic, and in helping member countries to undertake contingency planning in their financial sectors.
International Monetary Fund


This paper, prepared by a working group of IMF staff, provides a preliminary assessment of the risks and potential impact to the global economy and financial system from a possible avian flu pandemic, discusses the IMF’s role in helping member countries prepare their economic and financial systems for such a pandemic, and summarizes common elements of business continuity planning in the financial sector

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

With large uncertainties surrounding a possible avian flu pandemic, the IMF is complementing the efforts of other international organizations—including the World Bank, the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the World Organization for Animal Health—to help member countries strengthen national contingency plans. For its part, over the near term, the IMF will focus on helping countries manage operational risks in their financial systems if a pandemic erupts.